New Zealand 210 for 4 (Styris 87*, Oram 63*) beat England 209 for 7 (Pietersen 60, Nixon 42*, Bond 2-19) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A fine allround display from Scott Styris, and an unbeaten stand of 138 with Jacob Oram, handed New Zealand the bragging rights, but more importantly the points, from the main clash in Group C. England were twice well placed, but three key middle-order batsmen fell within six balls, then Styris steadied the Kiwis after their top three had gone against the new ball and victory came with nine overs to spare.
New Zealand were badly hurt when England pipped them to the CB Series finals, but the World Cup often brings out their best. All their top qualities were on show; Stephen Fleming's work in the field was outstanding, especially when he kept his nerve while Kevin Pietersen threatened to change gear, the bowling was varied and the experience of the deep batting order came to the fore.
The chase began in dramatic style as James Anderson, who only made the match at the last minute with his broken finger, removed Lou Vincent in the opening over. It continued England's mini-resurgence, started with the eighth-wicket stand between Paul Nixon and Liam Plunkett, which lifted their total over 200. When Plunkett added the scalp of Ross Taylor - courtesy of a blinding one-handed catch at first slip by Andrew Flintoff - and Fleming pulled a steepler to square leg the buzz was all with England.
However, New Zealand are a confident one-day team after their Chappell-Hadlee whitewash especially on the batting front. Styris and Craig McMillan countered as though they were again chasing 300-plus. But it was a well-conceived plan, the batsmen were aware that run-scoring would be easier while the ball was hard so despite the early wickets the approach was still attack. The required rate was always under control and it forced Michael Vaughan to make something happen.
He opted to hold back the final Powerplay and introduced Monty Panesar; McMillan couldn't resist the challenge and picked out deep cover to end a stand of 53 in 10 overs. Styris, though, had settled into a comfortable rhythm, showing his best form since returning form injury during the CB Series. He was quick onto anything short and when the field went more defensive rotated the strike with ease. He offered one chance on 61 - and it was England's last hope of getting back into the contest - when Pietersen shelled a catch at short cover.
The century stand with Oram began with the game in the balance but slowly broke England's spirits. Oram came out of his shell with a handsome six off Panesar and as the target grew closer he became more inventive with his strokeplay. His half-century, off 68 balls, continued his batting form from Australia and showed how he can adapt to be more than the brutal hitter that has previously been on show.
England had been on course to set a more demanding target as Pietersen and Paul Collingwood added 81 for the fourth wicket in 20 overs. The top three had departed for 52 - Vaughan again throwing away a solid start - but the middle order pair played sensibly. It wasn't the blazing Pietersen on show, only once did he really unleash, against Jeetan Patel, but he'd worked out it was a grafting rather than glory situation. But in the blink of an eye the picture changed.
Styris, whose medium-pace was ideal for the sluggish surface, made his first impression by removing Collingwood and Fleming, who sensed the moment, returned to Shane Bond. The effect was instant as Pietersen appeared to loose his bearings and chipped to long on, then three balls later Andrew Flintoff was deceived by an outstanding slower ball and picked out cover.
Bond had again proven why he is one of the most effective one-day bowlers in the game, backing his captain's move, and Styris wasn't finished, either, as he removed Jamie Dalrymple to another thin edge. From 133 for 3, England had slumped to 138 for 7. However, the contrasting styles of Nixon and Plunkett provided a feisty stand of a run-a-ball 71.
In the final reckoning, though, it was the damage done to the middle order that was the defining moment of the match. Both these teams entered the World Cup with fresh memories of impressive one-day triumphs but it's New Zealand who have continued the momentum and opened their campaign in style.